I was an extremely rebellious teenager. I was one of those kids who would essentially do exactly the opposite of what I was asked to do. What is that phrase? I would cut off my nose to spite my face. That was me. I didn’t know why I was rebelling – I just did. In hindsight I guess it was just self-expression.
Along the way I turned things around and began to realize that I wasn’t doing myself any favors! Since then (2001) I’ve come a long way since my days of rock n roll (that’s a post for another time) and have striven everyday to live the best life I can. Through trial and error I found what optimized my performance (personal and professional) and created a recipe for my life– a go-to check list of things that bring me back to center. These include:
-unadulterated time with my family
-7-8 hours of sleep
-healthy and conscious eating
-reading 5-10 pages of a good book
…you get the picture!
I’ve lived this way for years- with varying degrees of focus on these ‘ingredients’ for my best life- never quite mastering the art and science of doing them all at a level I consider optimal! Life happens and something slips- but for the most part I’ve always done few/all these behaviors daily! These behaviors are so engrained in my DNA now that when I stray too far- I start to experience physical withdrawals! I start to ‘feel’ unlike myself, I might have trouble sleeping, or just feel a general sense of malaise and discomfort.
A short while ago I fell off every wagon imaginable in my life! I haven’t meditated, run, slept well, eaten my best (ok not too bad here but not what I’m capable of) nor read anything good in at least a few weeks. And I’m amazed at how it’s affected me. I put on a big fundraiser on May 10 and I know I get into ‘crazy mode’ the fortnight leading up to it– where my life is completely out of balance. Usually however I can take the couple days off after it to recover and get back up on my feet! It wasn’t that big a deal- just about 200 people…and my 4th year planning it- so it wasn’t new; so I can’t attribute it to that.
I thought a lot about this and realized that I was having a conscious rebellious moment/day/week/month. Where instead of rebelling against someone else’s authority I was rebelling against my own– again back to that teenage behavior of cutting off my nose to spite my face! This time though I was fully aware of the consequences – and did it willfully. I have to admit that it felt good to eat gluten (bread, orzo, rice, baguette) and dairy (Brie), to have a martini (pear/pomegranate), to have a soy decaf latté and garlic mashed potatoes (not all in the same meal!)…all things I’ve avoided in my mainly gluten, soy, dairy free lifestyle. I’ve been sleeping late but having to still wake up early which doesn’t work out that well, and I’ve probably increased my alcohol tolerance (2 drinks vs. my standard 1 drink and I’m inebriated)…I don’t drink regularly and so yes I’m a total light weight!
Once I figured out what I was doing, I felt a bit better – initially I thought I’d gone off my deep end! My inner sensor had been screaming for a while and it was getting exhausting ignoring it. When I stopped ignoring it and actually acknowledged, honored and accepted my rebellion it became a lot easier to work through/with.
Now that I’ve allowed my inner teenager to surface, it’s time to grow up again; but let me tell you– it’s not as easy to gain the momentum that you’ve had. I’ve been trying to sleep early and yet here it is 10:30pm and I’m still writing; I’m back to gluten free, but not yet dairy free, so I know I need to make baby steps so I don’t resent the ‘grown up voice’ telling me how to live. So I plan to meditate tonight after nearly a month of not! I’m reading Norman Vincent Peale’s Positive Imaging, and instead of going out with my colleagues from the day’s training – I came back to my hotel room to detox and wind down from the day. All baby steps toward ‘re-disciplining’ myself because I know how I feel when I’m at optimum! I know how amazing it is to be at my best and I want that mind/body/spirit back! I know my family and my friends and most of all myself all benefit from that version of me! The one I love most of all.
Now the tricky part is if you keep giving into the rebellion! Then this becomes the new normal and thus begins the downward spiral. So allow yourself a few days/weeks of going against your own grain but remember to listen to your inner guide…that nagging voice that tells you that you know you shouldn’t be doing what you’re doing but you shut it out and so it anyway! Don’t shut it out too completely. Leave that door ajar so you can see a glimmer of that self that is so good at being your best self! Don’t ‘go over to the dark side completely!’ It’s really hard to return.
I would love go hear stories of how you’ve brought yourself back from whatever your brink was— please use the comments and share with others who’d benefit… I’m sure we can all learn from each other!
May the force be with you!
My friend in Australia who is bonded to me in a way that defies explanation wrote this to me a couple of days ago…
you came to my dream few nights ago and told me ” When the veil moves away, what is in the heart and soul will appear on the face, a wounded soul looks scary not because it is evil but because it is in pain. A loving soul looks beautiful beyond words. when you heal your own wounds with love and compassion and forgiveness then every soul you look at will be beautiful beyond words.” you ask me to tell you what you told me.
What does this mean to you? I’m still trying to decipher what it means to me.
What can you do to elevate your view of yourself? According to Deepak Chopra we must all treat ourselves to moments of luxury– make time for a cup of coffee/tea with a good friend, have a warm bubble bath with a drop of your favorite essential oil for fragrance, or just take a nature walk. When we are good to ourselves, good things happen. We are all so wrapped up in the busy-ness of daily life that we often don’t take that time to ‘stop and smell the tea leaves’ so make a commitment to yourself– today, even if only for a few minutes you will do something luxurious for yourself! The ripple effect of those few minutes will cause a tidal wave of goodness!
At the leadership orientation that I spoke of recently, we were given this essay to read. And for reasons that aren’t quite clear, it moved me to tears. I don’t know if its because we were so close to, and therefore one with nature, or because of the introspective and thoughtful nature of the work we were doing, but as I read this essay, my eyes welled up with tears. I was grateful that everyone was engrossed in their own reading and thoughts and so didn’t see the little salty drops trickle down my face.
For longer than I can remember, I have wondered about my purpose in life; I knew there was more to life than the one I was leading. I was a lost soul in my 20s truly dragged far far away from my birthright gift, of my own doing…it’s because I gave my power away. Life became more centered in my 30s – true happiness, peace, home, marriage, kids, roots, community all happened in this incredible decade. And now, poised on the springboard as I am – 8 days away from entering my next decade I am beyond ecstatic – I KNOW that this is the decade that I will ‘find out the path to authentic service in the world.’ For it’s as Frederick Buechner says “vocation is the place where your deep gladness meets the world’s deep need.”
The work that I have been doing, and continue to do will surely bring me closer to my birthright gifts. My true vocation of how I will best serve the world. In no particular order, these are some of the things I have embraced which I believe will help me find what I am truly meant to do.
1) Be Mindful: This is key – living in the here and now. As human beings, our nature is such that we’re always planning for our next best thing. Goals are good and worthy and important, but equally important is living in today. Expressing gratitude for where you are on this road and acknowledging that you are exactly where you are supposed to be, because there’s a purpose to that experience.
2) Simplify/Learn to Say No: The first thing my business coach did when I started to work with her was to make me aware of all the things that I was doing that didn’t really add value to my life; commitments that I made to other people – that took away my commitment to myself and my family. I quickly learned how to say NO…and it is powerful. And what’s more, I realized that the world didn’t fall off it’s axis because I said no. It’s continuing to spin just fine. She recently sent me a link to Jonathan Fields‘ The Good Life Project as he interviewed world renowned blogger Leo Babauta who spoke of transforming and simplifying his life. It was inspiring to listen to and made me realize that my own journey is on track as I minimize my ‘outside commitments’ to stay true to what I really want to/need to do.
3) Make more space in your life to explore, create, write, question and spend time with yourself in quiet – you cannot be creative if you don’t give yourself a physical and mental clutter-free environment. My darling husband sent me a great link on Life Hacker on Why you need more margin in your life
4) Conscious Living: We are such a minute speck in the cosmos and I believe that we have been given a responsibility – a gift…we are expected to steward the gift of this planet earth wisely. In fundraising, if you don’t steward your donors and their gifts, you probably won’t get a second meaningful gift from them; this world isn’t so different. If we just focus on how to live OUR best life consciously rather than unconsciously going through our daily motions without thought (read more on that at Zen Habits) then by extension we will be stewarding this beautiful planet we call Earth.
This isn’t an exhaustive list by any means – but this is not something you can take on overnight. However it is something you can make a decision to do/start and then once you make that decision – as then, as has been told to us by Nike over and over again – Just Do It™.
Change is Constant! Embrace It!
Sometimes I still hate to run, but love to have run!
I’ve been running since I was 7 years old. I ran track all through school – 100m sprint was my race. I HATED distance running… in 1998 I ran my very first 5K in Central Park, NY – it was the Susan B. Komen Race for the Cure – and boy you would have thought I ran a marathon! I was so out of breath and so beat up after it that I hobbled around for days. See those days, I HATED to run, but loved to have run! I loved to say that I was a runner…never mind that what I was doing was just about putting one foot in front of the other at a slightly faster clip than walking. In fact, I have a cousin who used to be a Speed Walk racer and I bet she would have beat me, had we ever put that to a test!
So What Changed?
I discovered that I was running too hard. See as a sprinter you give it all that you’ve got right out the gate! You only have a short distance to run and so you run fast and hard! However that’s not sustainable – and sure you can train to be a fast distance runner (I wasn’t born with those Kenyan genes) – but for the average Jane wanting to run – sprinting long distances isn’t realistic. So I slipped into a more conversational pace and lo and behold, I developed a true love for running.
I call it my moving meditation – it’s the only time that I can guarantee I will slip into true mindlessness. I truly become one with the road under my feet, the sound of my own breath mingled with the tweets (birds, not 140 character posts) of the birds and the occasional car passing by provides me with the white noise I need to totally ‘zone out.’ I have some of my greatest a-has and longest periods of quiet mind during my runs.
So why suddenly am I talking about running? Well – intuitively you would think that running outside your comfort zone would bring you the greatest reward – and if you were training for the Olympics you would be absolutely correct! However, for those of us who want to run for the pure enjoyment or exercise value – the way to run is to be able to hold a conversation with yourself. Even at that pace, if you do it consistently enough – you WILL get faster. I have run at an average 10 minute mile for over a year, and suddenly, without warning – I have started to run 9 or even sub 9 minute miles. I am still amazed when my RunKeeper program announces an 8min 25 second mile! WOW! ME??? no way!! Yup! ME!!!
So apply this to anything in your life – do it consistently for long enough, sometimes even without thought of reward and the reward will come anyway!
This is the site of the Emerging Leaders retreat orientation – perhaps you can understand why it brought out such strong emotions in me — we are all matter and matter is energy and when we vibrate at an energy close to our natural state – we become ‘one with nature’ and from this place such amazing creativity emerges. I believe that is what I experienced there!
As I let go of the need to arrange my life the universe brings abundant good to me